Tag Archives: Apple Pay

PTJ 115 News: Charged Up

Want your cat music videos and surfing dog clips without having to sit through five seconds of annoying ads? Got cash? A vice president who heads the YouTube division at Google said this week the company is planning a paid version that will also be ad-free. No word on pricing yet, but they’re still working things out.

turboIf you’re not thrilled with any of the new phones so far this season, here’s a new one. Motorola’s latest handset is called the Droid Turbo and it boasts some impressive specifications, including a 21-megapixel camera, a 5.2-inch screen and claims of up to 48 hours between charges on the battery. (The included “Turbo charger” also claims to give you eight hours of power with just 15 minutes of juicing time.) The Turbo comes in red, black or white and it’s on sale through Verizon Wireless as of October 30.

Speaking of Verizon Wireless, astute observers including those at Wired magazine have noticed that Verizon Wireless has been quietly inserting a string of alphanumeric characters into the data flying between its wireless customers and the websites they visit.  Verizon calls that string of characters a “Unique Identifier Header,” or UIDH. It’s part of the company’s Internet advertising program and basically functions as a serial number or a “perma-cookie” that advertisers can use to identify you. As one can imagine, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other privacy-minded groups are not happy about this. If you want to see if your mobile device has been tagged with a tracking number, visit lessonslearned.org/sniff.

Verizon is not the only one getting a growl from the watchdogs. The Federal Trade Commission has  filed a complaint against AT&T alleging that the company has mislead consumers with its unlimited data promises — by not informing those customers that part of their unlimited data plans include having their data throttled by up to 90 percent. Go get ’em, FTC!

Apple Pay has been up and running for the past week or so, but some companies are banding together to promote other contactless-payment services instead. CVS and Rite Aid are among those declining to take Apple Pay at the cash register now, reportedly choosing the just-hacked CurrentC instead. Walgreens, however, is happy to take your Apple tap.

HTML5Even though it’s been in use for several years, the official standard for HTML5 has been published in its final and approved form by the World Wide Web Consortium this week. (Now that that’s done, it’s on to the HTML 5.1 standards draft for the ever-busy W3C!)

Microsoft has issued a security advisory for vulnerability in its PowerPoint software and other programs that use the Microsoft OLE code. The issue effects pretty much all supported versions of Windows out there. So expect a patch soon, check out the security advisory for suggested workarounds and don’t open PowerPoint presentations or other Office documents from strangers.

In Not Scary Microsoft news, the company has knocked another $50 off the price of an Xbox One game console. The sale starts November 2, and brings the price of a basic Xbox One down to about $350. Your move, Sony.

firestickAlthough Amazon’s weaker-than-expected third-quarter earnings and epic dud known as the Fire Phone may have its investors a bit cranky, the MegaÜberEverything Store is cranking out new products. This week, Amazon announced its new Fire TV Stick, a $39 competitor to Google’s similar Chromecast HDMI dongle.

All those sassy TV ads and data-deal promotions seem to have paid off for T-Mobile. The carrier just reported its largest financial quarter in its company history and now has 52.9 million total customers and Sprint in its targeting computer.

cometMeanwhile, up in space, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe is still chasing comet 67P/Churyumov Gerasimenko. Rosetta’a sensors have even been able to detect the chemical composition of the flying ice ball — down to what it smells like.  According to a blog post on the European Space Agency’s site, “The perfume of 67P/C-G is quite strong, with the odour of rotten eggs (hydrogen sulphide), horse stable (ammonia), and the pungent, suffocating odour of formaldehyde.” Or, as Cnet put it, the comet smells like “rotten eggs and pee.” (Which is not unlike certain subway stations in the New York City metropolitan area on a Sunday morning.)

While the explosion of Orbital Science’s Antares rocket this week was most unfortunate, the space mission goes on. NASA is getting ready to test its new Orion unmanned spacecraft in early December and if you hurry and sign up before midnight on October 31st, your name can go up on the test flight. As part of its public awareness and outreach efforts, the space agency taking the names of everyone who signs up for an “Orion boarding pass” online and inscribing them to digitized list on a  microchip inside the capsule. NASA is also inviting social media users to apply for credentials to attend Orion launch events at several of its facilities around the country.

orion

And finally, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained why Apple killed off the beloved-by-many iPod Classic last month. Said Mr. Cook at a tech conference this week: “We couldn’t get the parts anymore, not anywhere on Earth.” NASA, you have a new mission.

PTJ 114: This One’s For The Apple Lovers

If you aren’t a fan of the Cupertino-based, fruit-themed toymaker you may not want to listen to this episode. Of course you’ll miss out on all the fun (and maybe even a shenanigan or two) if you do but we won’t judge.  We’d be enormously disappointed if you din’t listen but don’t worry about us, we’ll be fine. No, these aren’t tears. It’s just our allergies acting up…

This week El Kaiser kicks the tires on Apple’s Yosemite and J.D. takes the latest version of iTunes out for a spin.

In the news Google has some big announcements of its own as they unveil Android Lollipop and some new hardware to go with it;  Apple rolls out a new iPad lineup and an iMac with a 5K Retina display; HBO and CBS make cord cutters very, very happy; Staples is the latest retailer to suffer an apparent hack attack; and Marty McFly’s hoverboard makes the scene a full year earlier than expected.

PTJ 114 News: Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows

Apple had its iPad event well-planned in advance, but that didn’t stop Google from upstreaming the media cab ride by putting out quite a few announcements of its own last week. The latest version of its mobile operating system, now dubbed Android Lollipop, is rolling out and landing first on two new devices: the Nexus 6 phablet phone made by Motorola and the Nexus 9 tablet crafted by HTC. Android Lollipop also sports a redesigned Gmail app that handles mail from other providers. And after the spectacular flop of the Google Ball, er Nexus Q set-top streaming media player a few years ago, the company is having another go round with the newer, round-but-flat Nexus Player which brings apps, games and streaming video to a connected TV. Google has been very busy, indeed.

shamuThe Nexus 6, which has a 5.9-inch screen and was nicknamed “Shamu” before release, can be pre-ordered later this month for a November 12th delivery. An unlocked version is expected to cost around $650 with carrier subsidy pricing still to be announced and is expected to deliver November 12th. Prices for the Nexus 9 tablet start at $400 for the 16GB Wi-Fi-only model and go north from there; that new tablet arrives November 3rd. The Nexus Player is $99 and is on backorder in the Google Play store, a game controller will cost you another $40.

nexus

When not releasing a bunch of new hardware and software into the wold, Google is also attempting to take a bite out of crime, particularly online copyright violations. In an internal piracy report and blog post, the company said it would be making changes to its search engine to demote and bury results with illegal sources of content, while elevating legal alternatives like Spotify.

Okay, back to Apple. As expected, the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 were officially unveiled last Thursday, as was OS X Yosemite for the Mac. The iOS 8.1 (with Apple Pay) update for compatible iDevices arrived on Monday. So, how many of us went and tried it out at McDonald’s because we knew it had Apple Pay-ready terminals right in front of those delicious McGriddle breakfast sandwiches?

iMac

Apple also had a couple of new Mac hardware items to reveal, like the iMac with 5K Retina display, a standalone all-in-one desktop Mac with a 27-inch widescreen monitor sporting 14.7 million pixels. Prices for that one, shown above, start at $2500. Apple’s tiniest desktop computer, the Mac Mini, also got a component overhaul with faster processors, more memory and all the other good stuff and a starting price point of $500.

spotlightOne feature of the new OS X Yosemite — Spotlight Search now with website suggestions — unites Apple with Microsoft. While Google still remains the default search provider for searches done in the Safari browser, Bing has become the default search engine for Spotlight, as it is for the Siri personal assistant. The website SearchEngineLand.com read the fine print in the user agreement and noticed that Apple will be sharing search query and location information and sharing it with Microsoft.  The Washington Post popped up with a story saying Macs could automatically track your location, and soon the iMore blog jumped in with a guide to privacy for iOS 8 and Yosemite that basically said that Apple was upfront in its documentation about how that stuff worked and it was up to the user to decide to turn it off. The post also linked to Apple’s own pages devoted to user privacy and a PDF on the state of security in iOS 8, for those who want further reading.

hbogoHBO is finally making dreams come true for fans of its shows who do not have the full and expensive channel packages from their cable providers. The network announced late last week that it was making its HBO GO streaming service as a standalone option next year. An official rollout date and final pricing have not been announced yet, but let’s assume sometime before Game of Thrones Season 5 debuts in April 2015 and probably around $15 a month or whatever the channel is going for as part of a cable bundle.  CBS quickly said it too, was launching its own streaming service for live and stockpiled TV. The new CBS All Access service is $5.99 a month and you can watch shows on the CBS mobile app. 

Turns out Facebook was not too happy with the federal agent over at the Drug Enforcement Agency who created a fake profile for a real woman. Last week, Joe Sullivan, the chief security officer for the Social Network sent a letter to the DEA last week reminding the agency that its against the site’s rules to create fraudulent, false or deceptive profile pages, even in criminal investigations.

According to several sources, including security guru Brian Krebs, several Staples office supply stores in the Northeast seem to have been hit, as major banks are reporting a pattern of credit- and debit-card fraud. Law enforcement has been contacted to investigate the matter further and see how widespread the situation has become.

moneyLate last week, Snapchat began to roll out advertisements to users of its mostly disintegrating messaging  service. While the adverts to not appear in the personal communication between Snapchat users, they do show up in the Recent Updates area. In a company blog post, Snapchat said it was introducing advertising to the service because “we need to make money.” At least the firm being up front about its intentions.

Patrick Leahy, the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and the Democrat from Vermont, wrote a letter and urged Comcast to be an example, take a stand and make a pledge against any type of Internet “fast lanes” for higher-paying customers. Your move, Comcast.

hoverboardAnd finally, the hoverboard shown in Back to the Future II, back in 1989, may be floating into some sort of reality.  Jill and Greg Henderson have developed a working hoverboard of sorts that  while limited, works. The Hendo Hoverboard, as it’s called, is not yet for sale. However, its creators have started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $250,000 to further development and get it out to the marketplace. Hey, the famous Back to the Future II light-up sneakers are now finally affordable after an expensive earlier version lit up the charity auctions a few years ago, so it’s only a matter of time before the mass-market hoverboards are zipping about the city streets.

PTJ 113: A Good Turn For Cybersecurity Awareness Month

David Perry, threat strategist for F-Secure, joins J.D. and El Kaiser on the show this week and reminds us to remain steadfast and ever vigilant against the scourge of malware.

In the news, Apple rolls out new hardware; Google experiments with with video links for live medical chats; Symantec considers breaking up into two separate companies; Aereo keeps swinging away; Microsoft reports that more than a million people have registered for access to the Windows 10 Technical Preview; Samsung works on speeding up WiFi specs; and Mars gets set for a close encounter with a comet.

PTJ 113 News: Close Encounters

iBabyApple continues its fall rollout of hardware and software, and even smarthome devices designed to work with the iOS 8 HomeKit software in iOS 8 can be found in the Apple Store. Need a connected kitchen thermometer, baby monitor or weather station? How about digital door locks? They all await you. And the  Apple Pay service may launch this weekend — the MacRumors site posted an internal note from Walgreens telling stores to be ready to go live with Apple Pay on October 18th.

redcrossGoogle is  experimenting with video links for live medical chats with doctors over a video link. The feature is still in the experimental phase, but could wind up as one of the Google “Helpouts” video sessions that connect a user to experts or professionals for online help.

Symantec now says it’s breaking up into two separate companies, probably because everyone else is doing it. One of the new firms will keep concentrated on security and the other on information management.

Aereo — the feisty little company with the tiny antennas that got slapped down by the Surpeme Court last spring — has not given up the fight to remain in business and has sent a letter to the FCC saying it would be willing to accept new regulations like cable and satellite companies do. If that all goes through, it means Aereo will also have to start negotiating for retransmission fees with all the broadcasters that massively sued it in court the past few years.

Some people are interested in Windows OS X, er, Windows 10. A Microsoft blog reports that more than a million people have registered for the Windows Insider program that gives users access to the Windows 10 Technical Preview.

qikMicrosoft continues to tinker with the Skype voice and video-calling service. This week, the company announced the new Skype Qik mobile app for sending short video messages to friends. The Skype Qik app, available for Android, iOS and soon Microsoft’s own Windows Phone, is a little bit Vine and a little bit Snapchat. Perhaps Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella can use Skype Qik to send personal video apologies to the women who attended his appearance at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference last week, where he told the audience that women should trust karma if they don’t get the raise they want. As an F5 vortex of backlash ensued, Mr. Nadella quickly sent out a memo to Microsoft employees and the world saying “I got that question completely wrong.” No argument here.

Samsung announced that it’s working on its new 60 GHz Wi-Fi technology that allows for data speeds of up to 4.6 gigabits per second. All this is five times faster that the current possible speeds. The new Wi-Fi flavor is officially called 802.11ad and Samsung hopes to get it out there for consumers by next year.
Please hurry, Samsung!

tux_cloudsWe’ve heard all about the Google, Facebook and Amazon drones this year, and now the Linux Foundation is encouraging developers to check out the new Dronecode project that unites the existing PX4 open-source hardware and APM Autopilot projects. The Linux Foundation would like to remind us that drones can be used for good, too!

Dropbox posted a statement online this week saying that it wasn’t hacked and it was third-party services leaking user credentials. (So there.) The company also advises turning on two-step verification for your Dropbox account.

Snapsaved, one of those third-party services designed to save self-destructing Snapchat messages, got hacked and 500 megabytes of images that the original senders probably wanted to disappear forever are now free in the wild. Yeah, didn’t see that one coming.

nasamarsAnd finally, two little nuggets of Mars-related news. For one, technology developed to help the Mars Curiosity rover look for methane on Mars is being adapted by California’s Pacific Gas & Electric Company for a hand-held device that can locate gas leaks here on Earth for immediate repair. And second, comet watchers at NASA and other space agencies around the world will be tuning in on October 19th when Comet C/2013 A1 will fly within 87,000 miles of Mars. Now, 87,000 miles is practically spittin’ distance in space terms, and thanks to all the orbiters and rovers up there on the Red Planet, we ought to have a pretty good view of things. In fact, NASA already has an info page and its “Near Miss With Mars!” logo up and ready for your visit.

PTJ 108 News: Arrivals and Departures

We’re rolling into September and new phones are everywhere.  Samsung released two new models in the Galaxy Note phablet line, the Galaxy Note 4 and the Galaxy Note Edge, the latter of which has a screen that curves around the side of the device. Then there’s Amazon! The company released its first Fire smartphone just a few months ago and this week, it dropped the price from about $200 to a mere 99 cents. Can we say…

FireSale

Also heating up: The Net Neutrality debate. Netflix joined Reddit, Kickstarter and tons of other websites in an online protest this Wednesday in which the participating sites displayed the “loading” graphic so common with slow connections, along with more information about the FCC’s proposal. California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler asking him to reclassify the broadband as a telecommunications service to protect consumers.

The FCC sure is getting a lot of mail these days. Discovery Communications is one of the latest companies to speak out against the intended union. In a letter to the agency, Catherine Carroll, a Discovery’s vice president, said the merger would create monopoly-like conditions and had several bullet points to back up the argument. (Meanwhile, the Ars Technica site has noticed that Comcast is using Javascript to inject self-promotional ads for its services into Web pages on devices that are connected to one of its many public WiFi hotspots.)

TwitterTwitter announced on the company blog this week that it was rolling out a Buy button on posts from certain retailers that lets users purchase products advertised in tweets. Will people buy as impulsively as they tweet?

If you’ve used you credit card at a Home Depot recently, keep an eye on your statements, as the big orange do-it-yourself supply store has been hit with a Target-like security breach. A new variant of the same malware used in the Target attack has been found on Home Depot’s point-of-sale terminals and the breach had been reportedly going on since last spring.

delveMicrosoft continues to develop its Office 365 tools for business users and is rolling out a new presentation and internal service app that looks an awful lot like Flipboard. The new tool is called Office Delve. And Google Play Movies & TV for iOS got an update this week so users can download videos and play them offline.

The run-up to the holiday season also means new videogames, like Destiny, which landed on Sony and Microsoft consoles this week. To help players really get into the science-fiction shooter, Sony has announced new gaming headsets coming this fall for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. The models include the $99 PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset with 7.1 virtual surround sound and the $70 Silver Wired Headset, also with 7.1 surround.

tivo-megaAnd finally, TiVo, which announced a $50 over-the-air recorder a few weeks ago, is swinging to the other end of the price-tag spectrum with its new TiVo Mega recorder, which costs $5,000 — and comes with 24 terabytes of room. That’s  enough to record 26,000 hours of standard-def TV or 4,000 hours of HD video. The TiVo Mega also includes six TV tuners. The recorder isn’t due to arrive until 2015, so you have plenty of time to figure out how you can fill up that bad boy.

Oh, and one more thing…

applelivestream

Apple had an event this week. Among the announcements:

Not announced? The quiet death of the iPod Classic, the last click-wheel, hard-drive based iPod and the most direct descendant of the simple white block that put Apple back on the map as an innovative  technology company. Be thou at peace, iPod Classic.

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